THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The Attukal temple has been witnessing a huge flow of devotees from various parts of the district and states ever since the beginning of the 10-day annual Pongala festival last Friday.Though the District Medical Office had recommended RT-PCR test for devotees visiting the temple, the temple authorities and the state government were not very keen on mandating Covid-19 negative certificates.
Though the Attukal Bhagavathy Temple Trust has decided to confine the Pongala festival within the temple premises and scale down the festival there is no decline in the flow of devotees coming to offer prayers at the festival.
With crowding becoming an issue, the district collector on Tuesday convened an emergency meeting and has decided to appoint more sectoral magistrates to ensure that Covid-19 protocols are enforced. Interestingly, the festival is being held without the involvement of the district health authorities.
A senior official of the District Medical Office said that they are not involved in the conduct of the festival. “We had attended the meetings initially and we recommended RT-PCR test for visiting devotees which would have helped control crowding at the temple. The temple trust authorities said they will discuss and get back but we didn’t get any response from them. They decided not to involve us despite the Covid-19 threat,” said the official.
According to temple trust authorities, on Sunday around 6,000 to 7,000 devotees came to pray at the temple. “An average of 3,000 to 6,000 devotees visit the temple and we are doing our best to manage the crowd. We have mobilised around 100 volunteers in and around the temple to manage the crowd,” said Anil Kumar, president Attukal Bhagavathy Temple Trust.